Introducing a prevalent theme or concept into music is something which takes much care. Many have tried and failed to produce worthy concept work, however when done sincerely- the idea can lead to some of the most hard-hitting and standout work a band may produce in an entire career.
10. Green Day – American Idiot
Taking heed from idols such as The Who, punks Green Day- who, until this, were known for their regeneration of the classic three-chord sound, decided in light of their 2002 effort ‘Shenanigans’ to produce a rock opera. The finished piece, which took little under one year to complete, is a stirring account of the journey undertaken by fictitious anti-hero figure ‘Jesus of Suburbia’.
9. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Canadian indie/art rockers Arcade Fire’s latest full length came in the shape of this, their third and longest LP to date. Critically received by both fans and…critics, the album is based around the all too regular dream of fleeing the mundaneness of a suburban childhood and finding something bigger and better. The topic is supposedly semi-biographical in influence- tracking the move of frontman Win Butler and brother/bandmate Will from humble Texan beginnings to the big lights of Montreal.
8. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
One of the original pioneers of the concept within rock music- David Bowie adopted his famous ‘Ziggy’ persona in the early 1970’s, stepping away (or ahead?) from success already garnered as plain old David. The concept of this album is based around the earth only having five years of existence left, with Ziggy Stardust being a human manifestation of an alien race trying to instil some hope on our planet in these bleak times. Eventually destroyed however by his own excess (drugs + sex), and his fans- it’s nice to know some things are universal.
7. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
This seventh release by metal titans Iron Maiden obviously had to be in seventh place. Not only did this release mark a true progression of the band’s sound and song structuring, but was their first to feature a theme or concept. Taking influence from the literature of American writer Orson Scott Card, the band pursued the idea of a mystical seventh born son being blessed with differing astonishing abilities. It’s all very prog. Which makes it worth a listen because since when have Iron Maiden been in anyway prog?
6. Radiohead – OK Computer
Hinting this very experimental bands first lean towards being just that, Radiohead’s third album is a 12-track odyssey into the mind of Thom Yorke and co. Targeting issues relative to the era in which it was produced, OK Computer takes a good look at our age of consumerism, political apathy and general disenchantment. Although the band do not admit to the album intentionally carrying a concept, it could be said the limb upon which this work was created has continued to influence the band right through until their most recent work.